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The persisting lore of Columbian emerald beads

The world’s most beautiful emeralds are said to be Columbian emeralds. Since large stones of good quality may prove to be rather expensive for the layman, emerald beads are a smart option for those who wish to add this verdant gem to their jewelry collection. In this article we will look at the different kinds of emerald beads, their fashioning, sizes and use.

As with most colored gemstones the main factor affecting value is color. Famed emerald mines in Columbia- Chivor, Muzo and Cosquez are known for their distinctly colored yields more than anything else. Emeralds from the Chivor mine have a good blue-green color while those mined at Muzo are famed for their yellowish-green color and warm velvety appearance that is much prized amongst gem-collectors.

But no matter what the shade of color; Columbian emeralds are in a class of their own. Although it may prove somewhat difficult to source Columbian emeralds that fit exactly into the color descriptions given above, many good quality stones exist in varying shades of green. Light, transparent varieties and bright, pleasing leaf green colored emeralds make charming additions to any jewelry collection. Deep forest green and a dewy bottle green too are acceptable colors for emerald beads. Commercial websites selling emeralds cut stones and beads may classify color as light, medium and dark green.

Shapes and sizes
Columbian emerald beads are available in several shapes including roundels (beads that are somewhat spherical but with flattened sides where the drill holes pass through), spheres, faceted round or smooth beads, faceted oval or rectangular beads and irregular shaped tumbled beads. Round beads range in size from 6 to 9 mm and are available in strands that range in different length combinations. Stands may measure in at 14 to 19 inches, 15 to 18 inches and may go up to 24 inches. Sugar-loaf cabochons (square shaped stones with a ‘sugar-loaf’ like domed top), oval cabochons and lozenge shaped emerald beads are also popular amongst jewelry designers and gem enthusiasts.

Emerald carvings are stones that are not usually drilled but carved in various fashions. Geometrical designs, floral patterns and traditional motifs are carved onto the stones surface with great care. Carvings can be as small as 6X3 mm in size and go up to 25X23 mm. They can be obtained in multiples and individual pieces may also be sourced.

Though durable, emeralds have a reputation for being brittle. Cleaning, wearing and storing of emeralds therefore should involve a degree of cautiousness and care. Avoid sudden jolts, sharp taps and extreme changes of temperature to your emerald set jewelry. Always remove rings, earrings and bracelets before using hot appliances, strong detergents and household cleaning liquids. Store your jewelry separately in a proper jewelry box or bureau and segregate each piece with a tissue or cotton wool. Have beaded emeralds restrung at least once every two years and ensure there is a knot between two stones so as to prevent them from rubbing against each other.

Never put emeralds in an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. Warm water and the mildest detergent you can find along with a soft brush are enough for a regular cleaning. Always dry your jewelry gently after cleaning it.

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